20 Unexpected Ways to Use a Garment Steamer

garment steamer
credit: Amazon

If you don't already own a garment steamer, stop reading, bookmark this page, and run out to buy one immediately. It will change your life. Irons are great for pressing creases, but a garment steamer is just as good at getting rid of wrinkles, and without the risk of accidentally creating new ones. Plus, you don't have to haul out an ironing board, and it's safe to use steam on wool sweaters and silks. You can even use it to refresh items you want to wear more than once instead of tossing them into the dirty pile, potentially reducing your dry cleaning bill.

But that's not all — a garment steamer is actually one of the most handy appliances you could ever own, with an unexpectedly diverse array of uses that extend beyond your wardrobe.

1. Remove carpet stains. A handheld garment steamer is really no different than a full-sized carpet steamer. It's just smaller, making it ideal for spot-cleaning stains.

2. Refresh a saggy, stained sofa. Upholstered living room furniture endures a lot of wear and tear, but can be difficult and expensive to clean — unless you have a garment steamer in your cleaning arsenal. The steam will lift most fabric stains, and loosen other grime that causes discoloration. Plus, the moisture will plump up dried out foam cushioning. Your sofa will look and feel as good as new!

3. Clean curtains. Instead of taking down the drapes and putting them through the wash, use a garment steamer to remove dust and other grime.

4. Wash windows. Steam is one of the best ways to remove dust, dirt, grimy residues, and fingerprints from windows, mirrors, and other glass surfaces without leaving any streaks behind. (Just make sure your windows aren't coated.)

5. Remove wallpaper, stickers, and labels. Save your manicure! Instead of using your fingernails to pick off tough-to-remove price tags and labels, use a garment steamer to melt the sticky adhesive so they peel right off. Removing wallpaper is a lot easier too, as steam will soften the glue adhering it to the wall.

6. Defrost the freezer. Your annual freezer defrost will go much faster with a little help from some steam heat. Proceed with caution, since water and electronics don't mix. Make sure you have a container to catch the melting ice, and have plenty of towels available.

7. Unclog the ice dispenser. If your ice maker has been working overtime and gotten jammed up, give it a few blasts of steam to unclog the cubes.

8. Remove grease. Got a sink full of filthy pots and pants? Baked on grease will wash right off if you blast it with a little steam first.

9. Make kitchen appliances sparkle. Steam will cut through the layers of baked on grease that normally make cleaning the oven, stovetop, and microwave such a dreadful chore.

10. De-funk the fridge. You hate to do it, but it's necessary, and adding a garment steamer to your arsenal of cleaning supplies will only make the task more tolerable. Use the steam to sanitize the door handles, defrost and clean glass shelves, and loosen sticky food stains from plastic compartments and bins — including whatever the hell has been composting down in the vegetable drawer.

11. Make stainless steel and chrome gleam. Just as it does with glass, steam has a way of leaving chrome and stainless steel spotless like nothing else can.

12. Sanitize EVERYTHING. Steam kills 99.9% of bacteria and germs, making it a chemical-free way to sanitize kitchen countertops without the risk of cross-contamination associated with sponges and cleaning cloths. Likewise, you can use your garment steamer to sanitize other germ magnets, like doorknobs, drawer pulls, children's toys, and toilet seats.

13. Show your mattress some TLC. The next time you strip the sheets off your bed and toss them into the wash, steam clean your mattress before putting on a fresh set. A garment steamer is an effective tool for tackling old sweat stains, lingering germs from your last bout with the flu, and that weird musty smell you've done your best to ignore. Set aside a few hours and crack open the windows — the mattress will be a little damp and needs to dry.

14. Refresh bedding. You can also refresh (and sanitize them, if you're feeling under the weather) pillows, mattress pads, and duvet inserts in between washings.

15. Kill a flea infestation. Use a garment steamer on your pet's bedding, toys, and collar, and the heat will leave no survivors.

16. Destroy grout grime. You won't need nearly so much elbow grease to scrub off hard-to-remove mildew and soap scum from bathroom and kitchen caulking.

17. Detail a car. Many of the uses above apply to your other home away from home: your car. Break out the garment steamer to refresh the inside upholstery; sanitize the dashboard, gearshift, and steering wheel; give the the chrome rims, grills, and bumpers a gleaming polish; and clean the windows and mirrors till they sparkle.

18. Remove candle wax. Even a few seconds of heat from the garment steamer will melt the wax just enough that it will wipe right off.

19. Clean the BBQ grill. Remove the grill grates and use the garment steamer (along with a scrub brush) to loosen charred food bits and built up grease. You can also use the hot steam to clean the outside of the barbecue and any grilling tools.

20. Give yourself a facial. Put a few tiny drops of lavender in the water and make sure you don't stand too close!


Amelia McDonell-Parry

Amelia McDonell-Parry

I'm a freelance writer and reporter for outlets like Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, BUST, Nylon, Woolly, and the Appeal, a podcast host for Undisclosed, and once upon a time, I was the founding editor of The Frisky.